The House Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held an oversight hearing on wildfire and forest management on July 11, 2013. The hearing focused on the need for active forest management, which includes both timber sales and prescribed burns, to reduce the fuel available to wildfires.
Scientists and technicians from volcano observatories in nine countries traveled to the United States this month to participate in the International Training Program in Volcano Hazards Monitoring. The goal of the program is to help participating nations become self-sufficient in volcano monitoring, in order to decrease the negative impacts of a volcanic eruption.
The Department of Energy updated a report as part of the Administration’s efforts to support national climate change adaptation planning and to promote energy security. The report examines the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the U.S. energy sector and identifies activities underway to address these challenges as well as potential opportunities to enhance energy technologies.
A recent study done by Columbia University and the University of Oklahoma published in the 12 July 2013 issue of Science suggests that large (magnitude 7 or above) earthquakes from all over the globe can trigger smaller quakes at waste fluid injection sites where pressure from the fluids has pushed faults close to failure. At some injection locations, a swarm of remotely triggered earthquakes appears to act as a warning sign that large earthquakes related to human activities may be imminent. Several areas in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas showed this correlation.
On May 23, 2013 the Subcommittee on Energy of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on Restoring U.S. Leadership in Weather Forecasting. With witness testimony from Mr. Barry Myers, Chief Executive Officer of AccuWeather, a private weather forecasting company, and Mr. Jon Kirchner, President of GeoOptics, a private environmental data company, the hearing focused on how to improve budgeting and cooperation between federal weather organizations and the private weather industry.
National flood insurance rates are set to rise at the end of the month. Beginning October 1, 2013, owners of repetitively flooded homes and the most subsidized policyholders of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will begin paying 25 percent more each year for flood insurance until their rates accurately reflect the level of risk associated with their properties. The increases are targeted at 1.1 million policyholders that own homes along hazardous shorelines that are worth less than the claims paid out by the federal government.
On June 5, 2013 the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Research and Technology held a hearing to review the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2013 (H.R. 1786). The act, introduced by Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), would reauthorize the multi-agency National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP).
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report on August 13 that criticizes the failure of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to take account of climate change in risk assessment. The report is part of a larger effort by UCS to convince the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to account for climate impacts on flooding in its policies. The report comes before the planned initiation of increased premiums for risky buildings, which will be done by the NFIP on October 1.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released several interactive maps that combine real-time data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Center with maps showing the nation’s energy infrastructure and resources. These maps, released as peak hurricane season approaches, serve to better illustrate the potential impact of a storm for industry, government decisions makers, and the general public. The new maps are available at any time on the EIA’s Energy Disruptions webpage.